Locals save drowning man at New Mexico lake
RUIDOSO, N.M. — What started as a beautiful day at Grindstone Lake in Ruidoso quickly turned into a life or death situation.
Darlene and Johnny Salas – siblings from Ruidoso who grew up going to the lake – thought they were in for a peaceful afternoon on the lake. But then, they spotted a water spout yards away, and moving quickly in their direction.
“It was too hard to hold (the canoe) and it picked us up about two or three feet and then tossed us,” Johnny said.
His sister Darlene was safely floating in her life jacket, but Johnny’s was thrown way out of reach.
He said he started swimming toward it but wasn’t quick enough to avoid a second hit from the spout.
“I couldn’t hold on no more, I couldn’t swim no more, I was already so tired so I ended up just accepting it because I couldn’t swim and I started going down,” Johnny said. He said what he thought were his last words to his sister.
“I just told her ‘I’m sorry, I love you and mom and dad. Right before I accepted death, I told God, please, please just take me to heaven,” he said.
But luck, and a few bystanders, were on his side. Cannon Irons and Jordan Wright were out on the lake, paddle boarding with their girlfriends. The water spout passed over them too, and swept up all of the boards – except for Cannon’s.
He used it to paddle toward Johnny and Darlene, while Jordan swam. Jordan got there first.
“When he got to Johnny, Johnny was unconscious, face down in the water,” Irons. said. “Jordan grabbed him and swam him to my board and we both drug him up onto my board.”
“Jordan steadied the board from in the water and I steadied it with my right arm and I gave him chest compressions with my left,” explained Irons.
He said he has never done CPR or chest compressions, and isn’t trained.
“It’s pretty unrealistic how it actually went down,” Irons said. “I just kind of filed through my memory and remembered movies and seeing people drown and I just kind of went off that to be honest.”
Johnny Salas credits that quick thinking, for saving his life.
“I want to them thank you for everything he did for me and my sister,” Salas said.
Johnny spent three days in the hospital after the accident. He plans to meet Jordan and Cannon for dinner to properly thank them for saving his life.